4 Tips for Success in a Self-Paced Learning Environment

Self-paced learning environments are a great way to learn, but they also come with their own set of challenges. As a student in a self-paced learning environment, you’ll be responsible for your own time management. 

This means that you’ll have to set your own deadlines, plan your own learning schedule, and juggle all the other responsibilities that come with being a student. For adults taking care of responsibilities like working full time, caring for family members, and juggling daily life, this is a lot to handle.

You might be accustomed to a rigid, public school schedule that has start and end times with little freedom over your day. Learning to go at your own pace takes a little practice, but these tips can help:

1. Set a Schedule That Works for You 

Self-learning environments are great for helping you break out of the rigidity of a public school. The biggest issue students face is that they don’t know how to set a schedule that works best for their learning style.

You may find it’s best to begin your day early in the morning or late at night.  Maybe your children go down for a nap in the early afternoon, so that’s when you can really focus on your own tasks.  Maybe you prefer to wait until evening when your personal and work responsibilities are taken care of and your family is settled in on their own activities.  You might find that you work best by heading to the public library before or after work.  Setting a schedule that works for you and your responsibilities is essential. 

If you find that you’re able to stay focused and learn best at 5pm, this is the time that you should sit down to do your coursework. A lot of adult students will work and set their school schedule around their work hours, which is perfectly fine.

The key, and possibly the most important thing,  is to set a schedule and stick to it.

2. Keep Track of Your Progress

You’ve set a schedule, but now it’s time to track your progress. A lot of students try rushing through their work, but that’s not a way to earn good grades and retain essential information in a self-paced environment.  If you are working on a career certificate program, you most definitely want to make sure that you are learning the content of your courses so that you can use them in your professional life or make a positive impression during an interview.

Instead, you’ll want to:

  • ⦿ Record your progress to make sure that you’re spending enough time on each assignment.
  • ⦿ Monitor your grades to determine if you need to dedicate more time to a certain class.
  • ⦿ Track and adjust your schedule as needed. 

Tracking your progress is important because it allows you to find issues in your learning that may grow bigger if you don’t address them now. For example, you may be too tired after work and are not giving yourself enough time for your assignments.

In this case, you may need to adjust your work schedule or do all of your school work before work to make sure that you stay on track and are gaining the knowledge that you need in order for the work to make a positive impact on your future career goals.

3. Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You

Instructors are there to help you find success in an online environment. If you’re having trouble, you should ask for help. Schools may give you direct access to the instructor if you need further help, so sending an email to request help understanding material is a wonderful way to provide clarity in your studies.  The instructors are professionals with experience in the courses you are studying, so use your resources and reach out to them at the first sign of trouble.  The faster you clarify your questions, the faster you will be back on track.

Chances are, if you’re having trouble, others in the class are, too.  Providing feedback will help prevent confusion as you move forward.

4. Create Your Own Workspace

Are you sitting on the couch doing your schoolwork while watching TV? If so, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you really need a dedicated space to work. The space that you create should be a place where you can:

  • ⦿ Be free from distractions. When you’re distracted, it’s almost impossible to get your work done properly. If this means that you have to set some clear boundaries with your family members or roommates, that’s okay! It will be worth it in the end to find a space where you can focus on your work and achieve your goals. 

  • ⦿ Have everything you need available. Your space should have everything that you need to do your schoolwork. Be sure to have a computer and/or laptop, notebooks, pens and other forms of stationary available so that you are not stopping to search for your supplies.

When you create your own workspace, you’re going to make it much easier to remain focused and stay on track. Your space can be a small corner of your room, or it can be a separate office – it’s up to you. A little space is all you need to be able to focus and get your work done.

Online classrooms have a lot of perks, and when you follow the tips above, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

Over time, you’ll start developing your own routine and tips to follow that will make getting your schoolwork done at your own pace simple and easy.

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Washington Online Learning Institute is Regionally accredited by the Middle States Association CESS, and licensed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education as an institution of higher learning